Recognition Programs Boost Morale (And Profits).

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Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics once said, “Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with people.” Making people feel important is what the award business is all about. Yet so many employees never get recognized for the work they do simply because some companies don’t have award programs.
Distributors who believe it is too difficult, too time consuming and too costly to sell their clients on annual or quarterly awards and recognition programs should reconsider the benefits to themselves and their customers.
Award programs benefit companies in many ways. They help retain the best employees and eliminate recruiting costs. Numerous studies, from Maritz to the Harvard Business Review, cite the No. 1 reason employees leave a company is from lack of recognition. Awards help employees become more focused on their career paths and allow them to proudly display tangible results that both they and others can appreciate as they achieve milestones.
The best recognition programs include awards and merchandise incentives, and not simply cash bonuses. A study by Gulf Oil concluded that cash incentives could cost up to six times as much as noncash incentives and provide the same results. Cash incentives are proven to lose their incentive value over time as they become expected rather than recognizing performance that goes above and beyond the norm. Also, those who receive cash as an incentive tend to use the money they receive to pay bills and not on something nice for a job well done. Recipients often don’t even remember why they received the cash award.
Helping a business assemble an award program can be a simple process, and usually involves asking a few easy questions. Start with the following:

  • What behavior is a company trying to recognize?
  • What are the objective metrics for measuring achievement?
  • What theme does a company want for its recognition program?
  • Who is being recognized?
  • What is the budget for recognition?

Many businesses find it difficult to create custom award programs because the task can seem daunting. From developing a concept to creating a prototype to bringing the vision to reality, creating custom awards is a challenge. That is why you should work with suppliers who have a proven track record of successful custom programs, as well as “A to Z” capabilities, from design conceptualization to fulfillment.
There is evidence that engaged employees are better for a business’ bottom line. Customers tend to spend more when they feel that employees are trying to satisfy them. There are direct links between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and customer satisfaction and improved financial performance, according to studies by The Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement.
As the business owner, your consultative abilities come into play to make sure clients are sending the right messages. To arrive at a solution, make sure clients present their problems clearly. Steer them away from simply choosing Award A or Award B because the best recognition programs help eliminate problems; they don’t mask them.
A good client will admit to an employee recognition problem and ask for some ideas on how to solve that problem using recognition awards. Then, a good promotional product distributor can act just like a doctor. Listen to symptoms, and, after some research, come back and say, “I think I have a solution for your problem.”
A strong recognition program can create a positive work environment. At the same time, it can reinforce employee actions that mirror a company’s values and mission. Providing your company with a recognition process that fits the culture is one way to create a feeling of being uniquely recognized in the workplace. And creating a custom award program for employee recognition can help companies bridge the gap between employee satisfaction and self-worth in the workplace.
And remember, a custom award program needn’t be limited to rewarding employees’ exemplary work. Recognizing vendors and loyal customers can be just as important to a company’s long-term viability.
This article was written by Dave Kogan for Corporate Logo Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
Dave Kogan is a marketing and public relations associate for Chicago-based R.S. Owens & Co., which manufactures the Oscar, Emmy, MTV Video Music Award and more. For more information, call 800.282.6200, e-mail or visit

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